Dreaming of future trains December 1st, 2005
By RailPAC President Noel T. Braymer — This seems the right time of year to reflect on what new rail service we have to look forward to and to dream about new projects. I’m writing about my own personal choices, though I’m sure many share some of my dreams. We have many projects to look forward to. There is light rail service being extended on 3rd St. in San Francisco in 2006 as well as RT light rail service to the Amtrak Station in Sacramento. The SPRINTER between Oceanside and Escondido will be running by 2008. By 2009 the GOLD LINE will be extended from LAUS out to East Los Angeles. Metrolink will see service extended to Perris and half-hourly service in Orange County by 2009. By 2010 the EXPO LINE will be running from Culver City to downtown Los Angeles. Also in 2010 the Dumbarton rail bridge will reopen connecting the Bay Area between the Peninsula and the East Bay. All these projects stared out as a dream.
The Amtrak Board is on the right track November 1st, 2005
By RailPAC President Noel T. Braymer — There were lots of news stories along with misinformation over the action of the Amtrak Board this late September. (For the full story read the accompanying news report from the Bureau of National Affairs) The Amtrak Board created a new Amtrak subsidiary comprised of the entire North East Corridor. This move is primarily for accounting purposes in order to discover the true costs and revenues of the NEC compared to the rest of the national system. The need for this action can be traced back to research by former RailPAC officers, the late Byron Nordberg and Dr. Adrian Herzog in the 1980′s. They with others discovered substantial evidence that Amtrak’s accounting was spreading the high overhead costs of the NEC to the rest of the national system, particularly the long distance trains. Doing this hides the costs of the NEC while making it look like long distance trains require hundreds of dollars of subsidy per passenger carried. A Federal Railroad Agency study concluded that excluding depreciation and allocated costs the direct cost’s of Amtrak’s long distance trains were only 73.5 million dollars in 2003. Separating the NEC costs from the rest of the national system was one of the recommendations made by the Amtrak Reform Council back in 2002.
Reproduced with permission from Daily Report for Executives, No. 198, pp A-8 – A-9 (Oct. 14, 2005). Copyright 2005 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033)
We can stop importing Oil without becoming a third world country October 1st, 2005
By RailPAC President Noel T. Braymer — The key to major reductions in our Oil use is transportation, since 65% of our Oil consumption is used for transportation. New York City on a per capita basis uses about half as much gasoline as the national average; the reason is rather obvious, as New Yorkers drive less and use a great deal of public transportation. The same is true of most major European cities. Expanding transit and more importantly planning development around transit, commuter and intercity rail will greatly cut back on car use.
Should we bring back Streetcars? September 1st, 2005
By RailPAC President Noel T. Braymer — One of my earliest memories as a child was going to Los Angeles from our home in Orange County to watch the Dodgers play baseball at the Los Angeles Coliseum. This was back in the late 1950′s. What I remember most about that night, my first in the “Big City,” was seeing Streetcars for the first time. They scared the daylights out of me. I was very young and I think their size and the crackle of sparks from the trolley poles on the trolley wire is what scared me. But they made a lasting impression.
RailPAC Endorses S. 1516 August 1st, 2005
The Board of Directors of RailPAC, the Rail Passenger Association of California, enthusiastically endorses the bipartisan SB 1516. (Full text on Thomas at the Library of Congress) Read the rest of this entry »
Skepticism is the Mother of Security August 1st, 2005
By RailPAC President Noel T. Braymer — The July 7th bombings of London transit has set off a wave of panic, which is just what the bombers wanted. There are calls to spend massive amounts of money to increase security on all forms of public transportation, comparing the situation to security at the airports. Yet even the pundits admit that Israel, the most security conscience nation on earth hasn’t been able to stop bombings on their buses. These bombings are not random acts of thoughtless violence. British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s popularity even with his own Labour Party was hitting an all time low. He hoped to shore up his image by hosting the G-8 economic conference in Scotland. That way he could be seen with rock stars promoting help for impoverished African counties. Bombing London while this was going on was a way to rain on Mr. Blair’s parade. The train bombings in Madrid in March 2004 were timed just before the Spanish National elections. Their purpose was to weaken an already unpopular Prime Minister because of his support of American involvement in Iraq. It is unlikely that Al-Qaeda will be bombing Fresno anytime soon.
Rail Passenger Association of California Board of Directors, Adopted June 4, 2005.
Amtrak Food Fight July 1st, 2005
By RailPAC President Noel T. Braymer — In the wake of Amtrak’s increasing financial problems, there has been increasing pressure on Amtrak to cut costs. The Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress’s investigative arm, thinks it has found an area ripe for cost savings in Amtrak’s Food Services. Food service has long been a target of cost cutting for rail passenger service. To save money back in the 1960s, the Southern Pacific experimented with vending machines to replace diners, which brought howls of protest. The Superliner diner was originally designed around a traditional crew of 11. Today, the Superliner diners make do with about half that number. Inventory control has been and continues to be an issue with food service.